Uncle Bobbie’s is a welcome addition to Philadelphia’s Northwest section
Book Lovers! Coffee addicts! Rejoice! If you find yourself in Germantown, a neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia, you absolutely must stop by Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books. Yesterday was opening day and some friends, my daughter, and I popped in for a look-see. I am in love!! The atmosphere, the decor, the books! Oh my! The only sad part for me was that Uncle Bobbie’s did not have any decaf coffee – yet. I love my caffeine, but only until 11:00 am. After that I would be bouncing off the walls all night! Lucky for me they offered a fine assortment of gourmet teas and bottled juices in addition to the coffee option. Everyone around me seemed pretty happy with the choices.
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books is exactly what you expect a neighborhood book store to be and so much more. The shop’s slogan is, fittingly, “cool people, dope books, great coffee.” The owner, Marc Lamont Hill, clearly invested his heart and soul in this project because he has put together a decor that is inviting and warm and makes you want to plop on the couch with a cup of Joe and get lost in a book. Consider yourself warned: When you walk in you will want to stay for quite some time! We ordered some teas and coffees and then began to peruse the shelves. Being opening night, it was a full house of excited patrons happy to be sharing their mutual love for coffee and books close to home. We managed to wind our way through the crowd and discovered this amazing space in the back of the store – a room full of comfy couches and tables surrounded by even more books! Swoon! We plopped our behinds on an available sofa and took in the vibe.
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books occupies a unique place in the social strata of Philadelphia. Germantown is a predominately Black neighborhood with a rich history. More than just another coffee shop, Uncle Bobbie’s is one of the few Black owned book stores in the city. (Nationwide there are less than 60 Black owned books stores). Hill decided to open the book store/coffee shop in honor of his late Uncle Bobbie who was an important influence on Hill’s racial consciousness and exposure to African American authors. According to his interview with Philly.com, Hill “curated the entire collection, pulling titles from his own vast library and taking suggestions from friends.” He did well! Hill is a former Daily News columnist and a Temple University professor. He knows his stuff.
When I was there last night, I took note of several books that I have enjoyed very much including Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the new novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward. In addition to the fiction sections, Uncle Bobbie’s offers shelves full of books focused on Biographies, African-Centered books, and Personal Growth. Hill also included a children’s section with titles appealing to young adults and kids.
All in all, Uncle Bobbie’s is a cozy neighborhood book store with plenty of book options, hot coffee, gourmet tea, a decent selection of nibbles and seating that makes my butt very happy! I was definitely planning on returning even before I learned this exciting news:
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books plans to host author reading, film screenings and youth poetry slams!
I did not think Uncle Bobbie’s could get any better than what I discovered on its debut, but I was wrong! I just so happen to be friends with one of the baristas and she told me that Hill also owns the space next door and is planning to host author readings, film screenings and youth poetry slams! If you find yourself in Philadelphia, I highly recommend you swing by Uncle Bobbie’s. You will not be disappointed.
Uncle Bobbie’s is located at 5445 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144. History buffs will enjoy the coffee shop’s proximity to the Germantown Historical Society (Historic Germantown), also known as Freedom’s Backyard, in the heart of Germantown. If you are an art lover or just want to see more of Germantown, grab a cup of coffee and then check out my easy walking tour of Germantown (inspired by Loving Day: A Novel by former Germantown resident Mat Johnson). The easy mile or so long walk will introduce you to 10 murals that depict the rich culture and history of the neighborhood.
If you are in search of other Black owned book stores, you should also check out these options in Philadelphia:
Other Black Owned Book Stores in Philadelphia:
Black And Nobel, LLC
1409 W. Erie Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19140
Hakim’s Bookstore and Shop
210 S 52nd S
Philadelphia, PA 19139-4002
If you end up engrossed in a book over a hot cup of happiness at Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, be sure to let us all know what you thought by sharing it on Facebook!